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Does Your Birth Control Make You Gain Weight?

Posted Feb 03 2009 12:09am

Does birth control make you gain weight? The research says no.

And that, my friends, is the sound of a million women screaming and throwing things at their monitors. Occasionally I read a piece of research that makes me wonder if the researcher has ever met an actual live human specimen and this is one of them. Despite the findings of the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (quality and efficiency - how very German!), every woman I know has her own anecdotal evidence that she would like to shove, er, show Herr Sawicki.

Hormones Are Wacky Things
I'm going to warn my male readers right now - today's topic of the day amongst the Gym Buddies was contraception. I don't know if was the absence of all the male Gym Buddies (what gives, dudes?!) or Gym Buddy Megan's pregnancy (she's right in that supercute stage where she has just enough of a bump to make maternity clothes look adorable on her and not far enough along yet to have swollen ankles and heartburn from drinking water) but the talk was all hormones, all the time.

The best moment of the morning, right after Gym Buddy Lisseth doing a flat-out face plant while attempting power-wheel ab crunches, was Gym Buddy Allison trying to demonstrate how to use liftits, a kind of miracle boob-tape that lifts like a bra but without the straps or cups (link NSFW but totally worth checking out!) - and yelling the instructions across five arc trainers. Complete with pantomime. I think we pretty much convinced the male personal trainers to resign right then and there. Welcome to Estrofest 2009.

A Pill, A Patch and An IUD Walk Into A Bar
And the joke ends there because it turns out that among all five Gym Buddies present today each of us has gained weight from some method of contraception. Ironic, considering we're trying to prevent a condition that causes a lot of weight gain.

One of the Gym Buddies (whom I will not identify - nobody needs to have their gynecological histories spread across the Internet. Unless you're Britney and even then you know people were just relieved to see she was getting regular medical care, even if it was just her waxer.) shared how she had done the Mirena IUD, which works by slowing releasing progesterone, and couldn't lose any weight as long as it was in. Once it was removed, she lost weight steadily at two pounds a week. Another Gym Buddy piped up that she had just the opposite experience with it, gaining weight upon having it removed.

Anonymous Gym Buddy 3 related how the Depo-Provera shot did the same thing to her. She gained weight on it and found it impossible to lose weight despite working out hours a day and aggressively cutting calories. Gym Buddy 4 shared how the Nuva-ring caused her to gain ten pounds while Gym Buddy 5 talked about how on the mini-pill she not only couldn't lose weight but also, um, got pregnant. Double fail!

As for me, I started taking the birth control pill Ortho-Tri-Cyclin a couple of months before my wedding only to discover it made me gain 10 pounds practically overnight. My doctor assured me that this could not be. And I opted to do my own small-group study by shoving the pill pack down his throat. Okay, not really. But I was tempted. Instead I walked down the proverbial aisle with chipmunk cheeks, an overly tight corset and a wicked farmer tan on my arms. Okay, the latter had nothing to do with my birth control but it has plenty to do with why I never show anyone my wedding pictures. Ever since that debacle, now immortalized in an expensive embossed album that never sees the light of day, I've stuck to the IUD and loved it, neither gaining nor losing weight on it.


Scientists can say what they will but I think hormones are a tricky business and as they are so related to our weight, any time you mess with one you run the risk of messing up the other. This is important stuff to figure out because you did hear about this, right? (In case anyone is confused, octuplets are eight babies born at the same time to the same woman - not octopus babies. Although that would be a good reason for birth control as well.)



One of the best Sarah Haskins videos of all time!

What say you? Anyone else have a birth control story to tell? Has yours made you gain weight? Lose weight? Which one do you love? And men, um, if you're still reading all I can say is hey, did you see the Simpsons cartoon I found?!

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